While competing at the USATF Masters National Championships this past weekend, I had the chance to watch some truly incredible athletes. It really was an honor just to compete on the same track as them. After my 1500m race, I cooled down by going for a light jog, stretching and stick work. As I was about to leave the stadium, an announcement over the loudspeaker caught my attention.
“Next on the track: the Men's 200 meters. Age 85 and up”
Damn, I gotta see this. How fast could someone that age possibly run???
My hands were full of food and gear while I scrambled to catch a glimpse of the race. And boy, did it deliver!!
There were 5 guys: ages 87, 87, 88, 90, and 91. Would you believe the 91 year-old actually finished 2nd by 0.33 seconds?! It took him 41.60 seconds to run half a lap – in Philly, that's a block and a half. And to me, that's astonishing.
To gain a better appreciation (as if you haven't already), head over to your treadmill.
Set the speed for 10.8 mph. (5:33 per mile pace)
Run for 41.6 seconds.
Gasp for air ;-)
I think one take home lesson from all of this is that as we age we have to set our standards higher when it comes to exercise. There is so much BS out there. A lot of it is geared to our over-fat, sedentary society: Go for a walk. Do 30 minutes of fill-in-the-blank. The message is usually, “Just move” for crying out loud. Sadly, even basic movement is challenging for many people.
Even us distance runners can find ourselves mired in the trap of only running easy and thinking we are becoming fit. No. If you keep doing the same type of training, your fitness does not improve. Perhaps you are successfully maintaining your fitness, at best.
The guys in the race, shown below, prove to me that you need to train with intensity. They were going ALL-OUT during their race. For some reason people seem to be scared of going all-out. They like the comfort of their 3 mile jog or weights that they can lift 15 times. Um, unless you're a beginner, that ain't gonna cut it.
I think, if you really want a higher quality of life (not to mention performance), you need to bring the intensity to your training more often. Not that more is always better. Smart is better. If you've got questions on how to incorporate higher intensity training safely into your program, let me know.
Sorry about the lousy quality of this video- wish I could have captured more of the race!